Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Amazing Lace Challenge

My Amazing Lace Companion

Well, I went and giddy-upped and go’ed and joined the summer knit along “The Amazing Lace”.

Why? I have no earthy idea why I do these things to myself. Perhaps a vain attempt to keep myself focussed on a project, or six. In any event, the organizers of the Knit Along are looking for members to make regular contributions on their blogs about the project and that’s what this column is about. It’s the June 4th , Amazing Lace knit along official introduction column, in which I introduce myself and the project to the fellow lace-aholics. Regular readers of this column might want to give it a pass.

So, down to brass tacks. I’m Kate. I’m 43, live in Fredericton, NB, Canada with my husband, child and a spoiled rotten cat. They are usually referred to in this blog as The OddBall IT and Technical Support Division, Ditto and the Terrorist. I dispatch police cars for a living and to keep myself sane, I knit. I have many friends and acquaintances who will tell you that the knitting as sanity saving strategy isn’t working too well but what do they know? Most of them are weavers. Not a group you’d describe as having all their oars in the water, if you get my drift.

I wasn’t always a lace knitter. No…once upon a time I was a regular, ordinary, functional sane knitter. I knit a few sweaters, which for the record I hate knitting. They are huge commitments and I get bored easily. I knit hats and scarves and mitts and more of the same. I was a good knitter and then I got a knitting machine. I went all high tech and that was the end of me.

For the record, I like the knitting machine. I just haven’t figured out what all to do with it really other than it’s handy for knitting stuff to felt. Let’s face it, it’s a total waste of time to hand knit something and then shrink the living daylights out of it. For this sort of entertainment and amusement, you can’t beat a knitting machine. With felting projects, the knitting is the least of the process. It’s what you do to get to where you can have some fun.

But it’s not knitting for the process of knitting. Now before 8000 machine knitters descend upon this column and batter me about the head and shoulders for the aforementioned comment, I’m not dissing the machine. I own two of them and you’d be hard pressed to get me to part with either. Having said that, they also lack the satisfaction of hand knitting…the shaping and twisting of string to make a coherent shape. And for me, there’s nothing on earth that beats lace knitting for that sense of accomplishment. I mean, really, it’s just a mass of knotted bloody string but oh-la-la, what a mass. I like the persnickity bits of knitting lace. I like watching it unfold and seeing how a k2tog shapes differently than a sl1, k1, psso. I like seeing how twisted stitches add subtle texture and lines that draw the eye.

I’m also taking a bit of a break from the skull sweat involved in designing. I just designed a shawl for charity and I spent enough time ripping, frogging, scrapping and throwing my hands up in the air to last me a while. Right now, I’m in the mood to just follow the damn instructions, will ya? It doesn’t happen often but that’s where my head is.

So for the Amazing Lace challenge, I’ve opted for a commercially available pattern so I don’t have to work out a darn thing. Some very clever designer has already done it for me. In this case, the very clever one is Dorothy Siemens of Fiddlesticks Knitting, right here in Canada. I’ve chosen the Flirty Ruffles Shawl, forever more to be referred to as Miss Flirty Ruffles. It’s based on the traditional lace pattern “Print o’ the Wave” and it’s very nice. It’s an intermediate level pattern with nothing too weird in it. I’m not even going to work out yarn choices on this one. In spite of the fact I have about a zillion miles of silk and/or silk blend yarns in this joint, all undyed and waiting for a project, I grabbed 3 balls of Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk blend in ice blue right off the shelf and a pair of 3.25 mm needles. No swatching involved. I’m not in the mood to think or scheme or figure out how to make it work. I want to relax and just knit the damn thing.

Speaking of which, I just finished row 100 of the main shawl body and I may be writing a fan letter to Dorothy Siemens before this is over. For those of you who have never used a Fiddlesticks Knitting pattern and this was a first for me, and may have been put off by what looks like a high sticker price at the shop, forget it. The patterns are worth every cent of their retail cost. I can’t remember the last time I worked with such an easy pattern. The charts are very clear, large enough to see and well documented. The instructions assume you don’t know how to do this already and leave nothing to guess-timation. I’m impressed. It’s one of the nicest commercial patterns I’ve ever worked with and it’s made the first 100 rows a very enjoyable experience.

The shawl itself is easy to work on. The pattern repeat is only 17 stitches long and while I’m obviously still glued to the charts, it’s easy to remember blocks of stitches and not be continually looking back to find your place on the chart. And with only 17 stitches, it’s easy to rip back when you’ve made the inevitable boo-boo.

The yarn? Dreamy. The softness of merino, the strength of silk. Can you get any nicer on the hands than that? I think not.

So, there you have it … the Amazing Lace Team for the summer of 2006 consisting of Miss Flirty Ruffles and one OddBall, tied together with a bit of wool and silk.

And that’s a wrap for now. Talk at you’se all laters; thanks for reading.


At 7:26 p.m., June 04, 2006, Blogger Wendy said...

Yours looks so much more interesting than the Fiddlesticks picture. I may have to add Ms. Flirty to my list!


At 8:00 a.m., June 05, 2006, Blogger Dave said...

Looking good! I'm looking forward to watching your progress ... especially when you get to the ruffles :-)

At 8:39 a.m., June 05, 2006, Blogger jackie said...

Weavers don't use oars. We use boat shuttles.

I was encouraged to join the amazing lace race, but I had to decline seeing as it has taken me 3 weeks to cast on for my toe up lace socks. Sad Sad knitter am I.


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